September 3, 2017 – by Shoshana Brand
🖌 If I were a parent in the U.S, sending my kid to a standard public school, I would demand to provide my kid with an excellent education in visual art. I would knock on every door with my vision for an adequate art program until it will be provided. 🖌
My child should receive visual art lessons at least three times a week from a professional art teacher! Not from a general education teacher, not from an artist-in-residence, not from a temporary art lecturer, and not from a sort-of-I-don’t-know-what-his-name-water-colorist-or-something.
By age 10 my child should have learned at school about the artwork of Van Gogh and Picasso, how to create a landscape with perspective and horizon line, and what is the difference between primary colors and secondary colors.
I got to this realization not as a parent but as an art teacher in the public school system. I taught art to elementary and middle school students who never had even one lesson in visual art from a professional art teacher prior to our meeting.
These kids could not tell dark colors from light colors, had problems understanding multi-step instructions, had a hard time visualizing how their work would look when it was finished, and needed a constant reminder on staying focused on their own work and not peek at their neighbors’.
Believing that artwork was supposed to be perfect, the kids that I met were afraid “to mess up”, and expressed those fears vehemently. They were slow to trust the teacher’s instruction, as they were not used to a hands-on process with multiple steps and an unknown ending. They were technically clueless, did not know how to use watercolors, chalk pastel, or color pencils, and were never taught how to mix colors together. They did not plan ahead, were reluctant to come up with their own original ideas, and needed support and encouragement as if they were infants who were about to walk their first step on the floor.
Some of them were under the impression that an art lesson was a fun assignment with no homework or test, so they chose not to apply themselves. Others believed that in art “one cannot make any mistakes” and that “anything can be art”, so they were practically deaf to any critic on their work, and became irritated once they did not receive cheers and praises from everybody around them.
Most of them came with habits one is acquiring when sitting long hours at a desk, reading and writing letters and numbers, listening to a voice that isn’t their own. They were competitive about their artwork, rushed to finish their project yelling “I’m done”, compared their work with that of their neighbors, were in a need of continuous attention and instant approvals, expressed their fear of failure very often, wrote and drew on final artwork different symbols like red hearts and smiling faces, and at times put their names in huge letters over the work, covering the whole page.
Then of course, in every class, there were always one or two children who had done some artwork at home for years.
Those kids could focus easily on the subject matter and were fast to understand my guidance. They came up with a plan before picking up their pencil, trusted their own imagination, took my words as an inspiration rather than a threat of some kind, were frisky and grateful with every step of the process, were joyful and satisfied with their final project, were familiar with art concepts and some techniques, never compared their work to their neighbors’, showed aesthetic knowledge, did not need the teacher “to hold their hand” while working, and their work, in the end, was clean, clear, imaginative, and powerful.
🎨 🎨 🎨 🎨 🎨 🎨
Visual art is a must in every school, not just because of the historical facts and the art concepts it teaches you, but mainly because of the way it develops your imagination, character, creativity, values, expectations, independence, thinking process, and self-esteem.
A school without a serious professional art program and an art department of several art teachers is not really a school.
It is more of a dwelling that babysits and hides your child from the life that is happening within and without.
(All the artwork that’s posted here was done by kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd-grade students in an art class I instructed for a year.)